Few parts of the world are the subject of as much sustained journalistic ignorance as Central Asia. News from what are patronizingly known as the “stans” rarely makes it into mainstream news outlets, except in connection to Islamic terrorism, authoritarianism, and ethnic and religious tensions.
“The history of Russia is the history of a country that colonizes itself.” This phrase, first coined by the historian Sergei Solov’ev in the 1840s, gained widespread currency thanks to Vasilii Kliuchevskii’s Course of Russian History, first published in 1911 and still popular today.
“You must have some more of these potatoes,” the scholar next to me urged, ladling out beshbarmak, a tasty mixture of meat, flat noodles and broth that is widely considered Kazakhstan’s national dish. “They’re from Narynkol, one of the centers of the revolt.”